Month: April 2015

Hetra Muller on How Silence Communicates More Than We May Think

As we sit, not a word being said, I realise that what we are saying now, means more than anything else we’ll ever say. Silence is also a form of speaking. They’re exactly alike. It’s a basic component of language. We’re always selecting what we say and what we don’t. Why do we say one thing and not the other? And we do this instinctively, too, because no matter what we’re talking about, there’s more that doesn’t get said than does. And this isn’t always to hide things—it’s simply part of an instinctive selection in our speech. This selection varies from one person to the next, so that no matter how many people describe the same thing, the descriptions are different, the point of view is different. And even if there is a similar viewpoint, people make different choices as to what is said or not said. This was very clear to me, coming from the village, since the people there never said more than they absolutely needed to. When I was fifteen and went to …

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag On The Beginning of an Idea

“Boredom is a function of attention,” wrote Susan Sontag in As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980. There are creative benefits to be found in being bored, for Sontag there was also creative influence from reading because it stalled her from writing. “Stalling by way of reading and of listening to music, which energizes me and also makes me restless. Feeling guilty about not writing.” “Getting started to write is never an easy feat. The handsome devil that is procrastination can play a recurring role for many writers, much like the overwhelming sense of having too many ideas and not knowing where to start. Add to that the relatively unquenchable desire of discovery of new things to enlarge not only our minds, but our hearts also.” But where do our ideas come from? This got me thinking about other writers and what the beginning of an idea looks like. I came across this extract from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s journal, “Saw the morn rise from the hilltop but could not wait for the sun. Those long slender bard of …

20 Words That Don’t Exist

1. When something finally clicks, and everything just makes sense. 2. The exact time you remember that word that was on the tip of your tongue. 3. The very moment you open your eyes when you wake up. 3. The thought that leads you into a daydream and then realising that you were daydreaming. 4. When you read something written by someone else which exactly describes what you’re feeling. 5. When two people look at each other and just know what the other is thinking. This is often followed by a mutual action. 6. The feeling of having a feeling. 7. Finally realising that something you once found imperfect or flawed, is imperfectly perfect — is beautiful. 8. Wanting to express something but not knowing what. 9. To be happy for someone else’s success or good fortune. 10. Finding the right words at the right time, and saying the right thing at the right time. 11. A craving for a perfect cup of coffee. 12. The frustration of accepting something you don’t want to; accepting defeat. Not ceding, …

The Dean of Harvard on Why Restlessness is Important

Recently Dean Khurana of Harvard was captured on Humans of New York, where he gave rather inspiring quote about how restlessness is vital for an organisation to move forward. In many ways, this is applicable to us. If we don’t challenge ourselves and consider different perspectives we’ll find that there is little opportunity for growth. “It’s difficult to stay on top for 40 years. Not to mention 400 years. For an organization to remain relevant, there has to be a certain sense of restlessness. For us, that means continuing to grow the circle of ‘who we are.’ Back in the 1700’s, Harvard meant rich white men of a certain religion. Since then, we’ve expanded to include women, different religions, and different ethnicities. If we want to stay relevant and real, we’ve got to continue to grow that circle. If our definition of excellence becomes a zip code or a test score, we’ll become little more than a museum or tourist destination.” [Via] Featured image: Aleks Ivic / Flickr CC

The Virtues of Remembering The Mundane

One summer my family and I drove from Melbourne to Adelaide to make it in time for my graduation. It was a 600 kilometre drive — that’s about a 7 hour road trip sitting in a hot car, passing an endless stretch of arid land, counting the naked trees scorched by the unforgiving Australian sun. Then, the time spent seemed insignificant. The conversations, the pep-talks, the packed lunches and pit stops. It was all part of one mundane experience to get us from A to B. We no longer take these trips, and my father has now passed away but these insignificant moments I initially took for granted, mean the world to me. It’s a discovery in retrograde: the essential from the insignificant. A four-part study in Psychological Science led by Ting Zhang explored the tendency to underestimate just how curious and interested we will be for recounting mundane activities such as making breakfast, or a trip to the mall. The first of Zhang’s studies, for example, required participants to create time capsules, with such contents including: last social activity attended, a fragment from …

Helen Keller on Listening to Beethoven

Letters of Note is by far, and easily one of the most gratifying spaces on the internet. As I searched the archives, I stumbled across a letter by Hellen Keller to the New York Symphony Orchestra after their performance of Beethoven’s 9th at Carnegie Hall in New York. Though half deaf and blind, Hellen Keller describes how she heard and experienced the music. I put my hand on the receiver and see if I could get any of the vibrations. [someone] unscrewed the cap, and I lightly touched the sensitive diaphragm. What was my amazement to discover that I could feel, not only the vibrations, but also the impassioned rhythm, the throb and the urge of the music! The intertwined and intermingling vibrations from different instruments enchanted me. I could actually distinguish the cornets, the roll of the drums, deep-toned violas and violins singing in exquisite unison. How the lovely speech of the violins flowed and plowed over the deepest tones of the other instruments! When the human voice leaped up trilling from the surge …